J.R. Smith was pretty clear after Game 1 that he knew the score and situation at the end of regulation, and that what appeared to be an all-time blunder was, in fact, a combination of team-wide confusion and a running clock. The play sure didn’t look that way, but that was his story and, honestly, it’s J.R. Smith, so really who the hell knows.
But perhaps a little time and distance from the event itself has confused his memory a bit, or maybe the outrageousness of his initial account was just too much to bear. Either way, Saturday J.R. changed his tune—now he’s not sure what exactly happened, but he’s no longer willing to insist he knew what he was doing:
Asked specifically whether he told LeBron “I thought we were ahead,” as broadcast video of the moment seems to show, J.R. said, “I might’ve said that. I’m not sure, but I might’ve.” I don’t expect anyone to remember exactly what was said more than a day after such a chaotic moment, but having allowed for the possibility that he’d said, aloud, to his gobsmacked teammate, in front of live television cameras, that he’d forgotten the score, J.R. was presented with an opportunity to address his earlier assertion that he hadn’t been confused about the score:
“After thinking about it a lot, obviously the last 24 hours or however long it’s been since the game was over, I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point.”
No one on earth has more reason to look forward to the start of Game 2 than J.R. Smith. If he didn’t know the score, he for sure knows The Score today. Right now, and potentially forever, this NBA Finals series is defined almost entirely by his blunder, and Smith’s career hasn’t been anywhere close to prolific enough to overpower that stench. I can’t help but feel awful for him, but Sunday night and however many games are left in this series will present an opportunity to work against that narrative. He’s still J.R. Smith—there’s a non-zero chance he’ll show up for tipoff with a fruit basket on his head, or his shoes on the wrong feet. But it’s also not yet out of the question that he could play a pivotal role in dragging the Cavs back into this series. That is, if LeBron will let him come anywhere near the basketball.